Carlisle United won a comical match 3-2 against Leyton Orient at the Breyer Group Stadium. Despite Orient leading in the first half thanks to goals from Connor Wilkinson and Dan Kemp on either side of Jon Mellish’s 16th of the season, the Cumbrians fought back to snatch a win due to Lewis Alessandra and George Tanner’s second-half strikes.
Leyton Orient’s interim manager Jobi McAnuff made four changes from his side’s 2-1 loss to Southend United last Saturday. McAnuff recalled himself along with Joe Widdowson, Ousseynou Cisse and Jamie Turley, while Danny Johnson, Nick Freeman, Hector Kyprianou and Sam Ling dropped out.
Orient were as follows: Vigouroux, Akinola, Turley, Happe, Widdowson, Cisse, McAnuff, Kemp, Brophy, Dennis and Wilkinson. Substitutes: Sargeant, Ling, Clay, Sotiriou, Freeman, Johnson and Abrahams.
Carlisle United boss Chris Beech made two changes from his side’s 1-1 draw with Cheltenham Town last Tuesday. Rhys Bennett and Jon Mellish lost their place, with Lewis Alessandra and Omari Patrick returning to the starting line-up.
Carlisle lined up as follows: Norman, Tanner, Armer, Anderton, Hayden, Guy, Riley, Alessandra, Patrick, Zanzala and Kayode. Substitutes: Farman, Devine, Mellish, Charters, Dixon, Scott and Walker.
Leyton Orient raced into an early lead in the third minute through Connor Wilkinson. A Long ball over the top by Tunji Akinola was misread by Nick Anderton, whose defensive positioning was questionable, and Wilkinson showed composure to knock the ball past the exposed Magnus Norman.
Orient looked effortless in attack, and a brilliant passing move involving Louis Dennis and James Brophy saw Wilkinson seemingly score. However, the linesman did not believe the ball was over the line, and despite the protests, the goal was not given.
Carlisle were handed a lifeline in the 18th minute as Ofrrande Zanzala robbed Dan Happe on the edge of the area. Zanzala stormed into the box only to be fouled by Happe, which saw referee Sam Allison point to the penalty spot.
Zanzala was the man to step up, but he placed a timid penalty to the left, which Lawrence Vigouroux saved with ease.
Sam Allison would again be pointing to the spot, this time in the 23rd minute. Another measured pass over the top of United’s defence by Akinola found Wilkinson, who was taken down by Norman, as he nudged the ball past the former Fulham stopper.
Dan Kemp was on penalty duty for Orient, but his well-struck penalty was palmed away by Norman.
A long ball into the left-hand channel found Zanzala, who expertly cut inside, but the Congolese striker could only fire the ball over the bar.
Wilkinson was having a field day against the United defence and showed good awareness to play an intelligent backheel to Brophy, who fed McAnuff. Pre-match, it was rumoured that this was to be McAnuff’s last game, so it was no surprise to see the veteran go for goal, but his shot was sliced wide.
Carlisle were desperately trying to get back into the game, and a short free-kick from Callum Guy to Joe Riley should’ve paid off. However, the former Manchester United man got his first time shot horribly wrong, and the ball sailed into the stand behind the goal.
United were level in the 42nd minute when Guy’s deep corner found Hayden at the back post. The colossal defender nodded the ball back across to Josh Kayode, who in turn headed the ball down to substitute Jon Mellish to fire into the back of the net.
Despite being pegged back by the visitors, Orient took the lead again in the 48th minute. An uncharacteristically weak backpass was efficiently intercepted by Kemp, who evaded the statuesque Norman and slid the ball into the unprotected goal.
There would be one more opportunity for Carlisle in the first half, as Kayode got down the left and found Alessandra. The journeyman playmaker had his shot rebounded to Kayode, who hit the outside of the post on the follow-up.
Half time: Leyton Orient 2-1 Carlisle United
Carlisle started the second half with much more intensity, and Joe Riley dangerously drove into the Orient half. He went to strike a piledriver but could only look on in despair as he was denied by the crossbar.
United were again level, with Allison awarding the third penalty of the match. Guy worked the ball into Alessandra in the box, who had his leg swiped on the turn by McAnuff.
It was Alessandra to take the penalty on this occasion, and he made no mistake by firing an unstoppable low shot off the post to restore parity.
The Cumbrians were starting to gain a stronghold on the match, and another goal seemed ominous. George Tanner drove forwards and laid the ball off to Omari Patrick, but the electric winger has been lacking an end product in recent matches and could only send his shot over the bar,
Leyton Orient still felt they could have the final say on the game, and they almost did so in the 70th minute. Wilkinson got free on the right and got a shot off from a narrow-angle, but Norman diverted the ball away from the goal.
James Brophy was outstanding throughout the match and constantly had the beating of Tanner. In the 90th minute, he again seared past Tanner and put in a ferocious cross, which Wilkinson could divert goalwards.
There would be one more twist in the tale as the Cumbrians scored a late winner in the 91st minute. Carlisle broke away, and Alessandra held the ball up on the right-hand side and found Tanner, who sent a powerful left-footed shot into the bottom corner for the winning goal.
Full time: Leyton Orient 2-3 Carlisle United